Should Non-TG actors play TG Characters?

04TRANSGENDER-blog427Photo from NYTIMES

Yes, they should.

The question, and my response, arise in response to a recent New York Times article discussing the casting of Eddie Redmanye and Elle Fanning to play transgender characters even though neither publicly identifies as being transgender.  Some groups and individuals have raised concerns, saying only actors who identify as transgender should play transgender characters..

I can summarize my feeling on this issue pretty simply:

  1.  We are not our bodies
  2. We are not what other people tell us
  3. We do not have to choose to identify as anything
  4. No one should be pressured into “outing” themselves.

To focus on item three, the pressure to put myself into a box and slap a label on my forehead tortured me throughout my life, and the need of others to label me created conflict where there didn’t need to be any.   I do not like labels, and I do not think we need to live in a world where every character and every actor has to be assigned a label and put into a box–  oh, that’s that transgender actor… or that gay actor… or that ingenue, or whatever.  Because people couldn’t figure me out they labelled me with things like girly boy, or they lisp he’s sensitive at me like being sensitive was a crime.   Some people called me a freak and a deviant.   That was where the drive for labels took me.  Do I want to be labelled?

NO.  We are are all more than labels, we all contain multitudes.  Am I a girlish boy?  A boyish girl?  I don’t have to choose.   I feel different things different days and different times, and my dream would be to live in world with more choices, more freedom and less labels.

The film makers can and will cast the actors they want to cast.  That is their right.   They want to make the best movie they can.  Some will not like those choices, and they have a right to express their feelings as well.

But I, for one, will never raise my hand and scream,  “LABEL ME!  Give me a bar code!  Put me in on a box on a shelf!”

I transcend all labels.  And you do, too.

New York Times on Casting

Should Non-TG actors play TG Characters?